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Syria's loss of students to rebuild future

By Bill Hicks

The BBC reports on the Syrian higher education emergency.
"An entire generation of Syrians has had its education truncated, and the country's once flourishing academic community has been scattered or driven underground. The scale of the problem, according to the president of the Institute of International Education (IIE), Allan Goodman, is 'unprecedented' in the near 100-year history of his New-York based organisation. More than a quarter of young people were going into higher education. Five years later, around 2,000 academics and hundreds of thousands of students are living in the refugee camps of Turkey and Jordan. Many more are lost among the millions of internally displaced Syrians."

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Syrian academics stymied

By Naomi Lubick

Chemical and Engineering News looks at the obstacles facing students in Syria who are trying to continue their education and the scholars who would educate them. 

"'It’s very hard to know on a day-to-day basis what is happening,' says James R. King of the Institute of International Education in New York City. 'Exams are being conducted; students are being taught. No doubt there are students and faculty working very hard and who are at times in great danger for continuing their work.' He continues, 'For example, we hear from agricultural faculty about all the difficulties of doing research—perhaps their fieldwork was in eastern Syria,' which is now too dangerous to visit."

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Committee attempts to find home for Syrian scholars

By Eli Binder

"Over the past year, the Brown University Response Committee to Host Displaced Scholars and Students has brought one scholar and accepted one master’s student displaced by the crisis in Syria. The committee is working with partners to identify more students and scholars from Syria and possibly others from war-torn nations like Iraq and Yemen who could be brought to Brown.

“There are more displaced academics now than at any point in human history,” said James King, a senior research and program officer at the IIE SRF. It is very important for universities around the world to “step up and say that ‘we’re ready to support our colleagues in this difficult time,’” he said. King applauded Brown’s role in this effort, saying “Brown has been a leader in terms of its response to the Syria higher education emergency.”

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Search is on for ways to increase HE for Syrian refugees

By Allan Goodman

The crisis in Syria, now entering its sixth year, presents a challenge to the future of Syria that is at once broader, more intense and more lasting than the previous academic emergencies. What began as a rapid response effort to offer emergency scholarships to individual students, through the Institute of International Education or IIE’s Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis, and fellowships to professors who faced particular dangers, through IIE's Scholar Rescue Fund, has grown to a systemic need to find a way to preserve the knowledge base of the professoriate and avoid creating a lost generation of young people without access to education.

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Syrian professor’s plea: make us part of the solution

By Ammar Al-Ibrahim

IIE-SRF Scholar Ammar Al-Ibrahim of Syria wrote an eloquent call for the international community to provide Syrian academics who have been exiled from their home country with an opportunity to educate Syrian refugee students and contribute research towards mitigating the effects of the crisis. Pointing to the hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian students who cannot finish their higher education due to the war in Syria, he noted that student refugees often have difficulty assimilating into local school systems, arguing that “A Syrian professor has extensive experience in the curricula and teaching methods that Syrian students are used to.” Moreover, according to Dr. Al-Ibrahim, these professors are “more able to understand the psychological and living conditions facing Syrian students, because [they are] usually living in the same conditions.” Dr. Al-Ibrahim is an agricultural economist who is currently undertaking his IIE-SRF fellowship at Cukarova University in Turkey.  

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How can universities respond to the refugee crisis?

By Brendan O'Malley

University World News looks at the role of higher education in the refugee crisis. 

"Many university leaders are in no doubt that this is one of the grand challenges of our time. But what is the role of higher education in responding to this crisis?

The issue matters because so little attention is paid to – and still less aid spent on – the role of education in humanitarian situations. A large proportion of the world’s refugees are stuck in indefinite limbo in host countries that deny them the right to work outside of the camps and where, for young people of university age, there is little opportunity of higher education."

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Syria’s academics, caught ‘between a hammer and a hard place’

By Barbara Crossette

An interview with an IIE-SRF Syrian scholar about his ordeal in Syria and getting to the United States. “'The Syrian regime and the opposition show the same lack of regard for human rights and international law,' said the professor, an author and reviewer of legal books, adding that the pressures on scholars — 'economic, social, psychological' — are intense. Among the victims of indiscriminate and sometimes targeted shelling of campuses are students who in another era, under different circumstances, would have been considered the builders of the country’s future."

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IIE, Finland partner to offer safe harbor to professors

By Caitlin Emma

Politico features the IIE-CIMO partnership in their Morning Education roundup. "'Universities benefit because they save somebody’s life, they get usually a distinguished scientist or humanist, and the students get a double benefit – they get taught or work in a lab with somebody who is world known, but they also learn something about where the scholar comes,' said Allan Goodman, president and CEO of IIE."

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New Research Voices publishes inaugural issue featuring IIE-SRF scholars

New Research Voices (NRV) is a community platform for researchers to share their work, opinions, and ideas with other researchers from around the globe. NRV’s inaugural journal issue, Researchers in Exile, features contributors who “have all faced persecution for their work and have sought sanctuary at universities overseas where they continue, despite the many obstacles they have faced, to strive for a better world through their academic endeavors.” Including articles by IIE-SRF fellows from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Syria, the issue explores academic freedom in sites of oppression and the ordeals faced by scholars violently driven out of their native countries.

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IIE-SRF announces new partnership with Finnish government to provide scholars safe haven in Finland

The IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) has announced a new partnership with the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture’s Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) to provide safe places in Finland for threatened scholars from Iraq and Syria to continue their academic work. IIE and CIMO kicked off the partnership today by hosting a breakfast reception with CIMO and other Finnish representatives. At the event, a professor from Syria spoke about his experience coming from Syria with the support of a fellowship from IIE-SRF, which enabled him to be a visiting scholar at a U.S. university.

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